Antipsychotics: Effects and Experience

Many people now know how antidepressants are overprescribed. Studies have shown that most taking them receive no benefit at all. Besides that, there are many negative side effects, including suicidality. But what few are aware of is how widely prescribed also are antipsychotics. They aren’t only used for severe cases such as schizophrenia. Often, they are given for treatment of conditions that have nothing to do with psychosis. Depression and personality disorders are other examples. Worse still, it is regularly given to children in foster care to make them more manageable.

That was the case with me, in treating my depression. Along with the antidepressant Paxil, I was put on the antipsychotic Risperdal. I don’t recall being given an explanation at the time and I wasn’t in the mindset back then to interrogate the doctors. Antipsychotics are powerful tranquilizers that shut down the mind and increase sleep. Basically, it’s an attempt to solve the problem by making the individual utterly useless to the world, entirely disconnected, calmed into mindlessness and numbness. That is a rather extreme strategy. Rather than seeking healing, it treats the person suffering as the problem to be solved.

For those on them, they can find themselves sleeping all the time, have a hard time concentrating, and many of them unable to work. It can make them inert and immobile, often gaining weight in the process. But if you try to get off of them, there can be serious withdrawl symptoms. The problems is that prescribers rarely tell patients about the side effects or the long term consequences to antipsychotic use, as seen with what some experience as permanent impairment of mental ability. This is partly because drug companies have suppressed the information on the negatives and promoted them as a miracle drug.

Be highly cautious with any psychiatric medications, including antidepressants but especially antipsychotics. These are potent chemicals only to be used in the most desperate of cases, not to be used so cavalierly as they are now. As with diet, always question a healthcare professional recommending any kind of psychiatric medications for you or a loved one. And most important, research these drugs in immense detail before taking them. Know what you’re dealing with and learn of the experiences of others.

Here is an interesting anecdote. Ketogenic diets have been used to medically treat diverse neurocognitive disorders, originally epileptic seizures, but they are also used to treat weight loss. There was an older lady, maybe in her 70s. She had been diagnosed with schizophrenia since she was a teenager. The long-term use of antipsychotics had caused her to become overweight.

She went to Dr. Eric Westman who trained under Dr. Robert Atkins. She was put on the keto diet and did lose weight but she was surprised to find here schizophrenic symptoms also reduce, to such an extent she was able to stop taking the antipsychotics. So, how many doctors recommend a ketogenic diet before prescribing dangerous drugs? The answer is next to zero. There simply is no incentive for doctors to do so within our present medical system and many incentives to continue with the overprescription of drugs.

No doctor ever suggested to me that I try the keto diet or anything similar, despite the fact that none of the prescribed drugs helped. Yet I too had the odd experience of going on the keto diet to lose weight only to find that I had also lost decades of depression in the process. The depressive funks, irritability and brooding simply disappeared. That is great news for the patient but a bad business model. Drug companies can’t make any profit from diets. And doctors that step out of line with non-standard practices open themselves up to liability and punishment by medical boards, sometimes having their license removed.

So, psychiatric medications continue to be handed out like candy. The young generation right now is on more prescribed drugs than ever before. They are guinea pigs for the drug companies. Who is going to be held accountable when this mass experiment on the public inevitably goes horribly wrong when we discover the long-term consequences on the developing brains and bodies of children and young adults?

* * *

Largest Survey of Antipsychotic Experiences Reveals Negative Results
By Ayurdhi Dhar, PhD

While studies have attributed cognitive decline and stunted recovery to antipsychotic use, less attention has been paid to patients’ first-person experiences on these drugs. In one case where a psychiatrist tried the drugs and documented his experience, he wrote:

“I can’t believe I have patients walking around on 800mg of this stuff. There’s no way in good conscience I could dose this BID (sic) unless a patient consented to 20 hours of sleep a day. I’m sure there’s a niche market for this med though. There has to be a patient population that doesn’t want to feel emotions, work, have sex, take care of their homes, read, drive, go do things, and want to drop their IQ by 100 points.”

Other adverse effects of antipsychotics include poor heart health, brain atrophy, and increased mortality. Only recently have researchers started exploring patient experiences on antipsychotic medication. There is some evidence to suggest that some service users believe that they undermine recovery. However, these first-person reports do not play a significant part in how these drugs are evaluated. […]

Read and Sacia found that only 14.3% reported that their experience on antipsychotics was purely positive, 27.9% of the participants had mixed experiences, and the majority of participants (57.7%) only reported negative results.

Around 22% of participants reported drug effects as more positive than negative on the Overall Antipsychotic Rating scale, with nearly 6% calling their experience “extremely positive.” Most participants had difficulty articulating what was positive about their experience, but around 14 people noted a reduction in symptoms, and 14 others noted it helped them sleep.

Of those who stated they had adverse effects, 65% reported withdrawal symptoms, and 58% reported suicidality. In total, 316 participants complained about adverse effects from the drugs. These included weight gain, akathisia, emotional numbing, cognitive difficulties, and relationship problems. […]

Similar results were reported in a recent review, which found that while some patients reported a reduction in symptoms on antipsychotics, others stated that they caused sedation, emotional blunting, loss of autonomy, and a sense of resignation. Participants in the current survey also complained of the lingering adverse effects of antipsychotics, long after they had discontinued their use.

Importantly, these negative themes also included negative interactions with prescribers of the medication. Participants reported a lack of information about side-effects and withdrawal effects, lack of support from prescribers, and lack of knowledge around alternatives; some noted that they were misdiagnosed, and the antipsychotics made matters worse.

One participant said: “I was not warned about the permanent/semi-permanent effects of antipsychotics which I got.” Another noted: “Most doctors do not have a clue. They turn their backs on suffering patients, denying the existence of withdrawal damage.”

This is an important finding as previous research has shown that positive relationships with one’s mental health provider are considered essential to recovery by many patients experiencing first-episode psychosis.

2 thoughts on “Antipsychotics: Effects and Experience

  1. I was situationally deeply depressed at around age 55 and was prescribed Prozac to ease the symptoms. After two weeks I refused to take any more, feeling like a zombie. I was then prescribed a moderate daily dose of Lithium (as a salt, I believe) and it seemed to provide me with enough relief without apparent side effects for me to function normally in life. Even though Alcohol consumption was not one of the difficult issues I was facing my issue I voluntarily stopped drinking alcohol during the 2 years I was on lithium. (that is, it wasn’t prescribed that I do so). During this time I met a woman (not romantically) who had a boy in grade school for whom the teachers and ‘therapists’ prescribed Ritalin. She suffered greatly in allowing her boy to be drugged, but I couldn’t convince her to strongly question its necessity. From this and other observations I conclude that teachers and ‘-ologists’ use Ritalin primarily as a way for teaches not to have to deal with boys who are being boys, and who should be in a place where their energies can be fruitfully, or at least harmlessly expressed. Now, that was decades ago, before the small screens took over the lives of young people. I shudder to think of the damage being done to them, all of them, currently.

    • I know little about lithium and have no personal experience with it. I’m definitely not against drugs on principle. Some drugs do seem to help some people. But even then they need to be used carefully and limitedly only after all other options have been tried and failed. That is definitely not how drugs are being prescribed to kids.

      My nieces and nephew are still young. All of them have dealt with various issues: autism, depression, obsessive-compulsiveness, etc. And at least two of them have been on medications, one on antidepressants while still in elementary school. But my brothers show no concern about this. Other than occasionally sharing info with them, I don’t try to intervene because I doubt they’d respond well.

      Giving kids drugs has become normalized. What is worrisome is not merely the overprescription and possible damage. More importantly, why are kids these days suffering from so many psychiatric conditions in the first place? This is not normal and should not be considered normal. We need to understand why the rates of diseases is shooting up. The young generation now is expected to be the first in recent times to have a shorter lifespan than their parents.

      My brothers’ kids are sick in general and none of them eat well, certainly not getting much nutrition, definitely not animal foods nor even much fruits and veggies. Their diets would most accurately be described as anti-ketogenic, mostly consisting of processed foods. I was a sugar addict going back to childhood, but kids these days eat far more junk food than did my generation. Most people seem to take all the bad dietary advice without question or thought, without researching it for themselves.

      And doctors often aren’t helpful, as they have little education and nutrition. I can’t forget the doctor that said to not worry about my sickly nephew because all kids are sick. That is mind-blowing, a doctor who has come to believe that sickness is normal and to be expected. The medical profession has mostly become the treatment of disease and the management of symptoms, not healing, much less prevention.

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